Two dead and sailor missing as storms batter UK and Ireland

Heavy rain and winds force coastguard to call off search for crewman who fell into the River Trent

LAST UPDATED AT 12:52 ON Thu 19 Dec 2013

A MAN and woman have been killed and a sailor is feared to have drowned after storms battered much of Ireland and the UK overnight. 

Winds of up to 90mph are forecast for parts of Northern Ireland and western Scotland while flood warnings are in place in the South West and the Midlands.

A 23-year-old woman died in the Republic of Ireland when a tree fell on her car near Mullingar in Co Westmeath, while a 19-year-old man was also injured and taken to hospital when his car was hit by a falling tree in Warwickshire.

Meanwhile, a motorcyclist died on the A3 in Surrey. Police say he lost control of his motorbike in torrential rain and, after being flung from the saddle, was hit by oncoming vehicles.

In north Lincolnshire, a search was last night called off for a sailor who fell overboard from a ship moored on the River Trent. The 45-year-old man, believed to be a foreign national, was working with ropes on the small cargo ship when he appeared to become entangled and was pulled over the side, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Gale force winds and the heavy rain forced an RAF helicopter and coastguard team to call off the search for the missing man. Mike Puplett, Humber Coastguard watch manager, said he understood that the crewman was not wearing a life jacket, which he said should have been "an essential bare minimum of safety equipment" in the weather conditions seen last night. The search resumed today.

Two South West trains hit trees blown down by the gales yesterday evening in Devon and the New Forest, and drivers had to be rescued from their cars in Cornwall as floods swept across the roads.

More than 7,000 people in Northern Ireland were left without power last night, with another 3,500 affected in north-west England and almost 900 in south Wales.

The storm is moving to the north of the UK, said the Met Office, but winds are expected to be less strong. The Environment Agency has issued flood warnings and said rivers in Somerset and Devon are liable to overflowing. · 

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